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STEM Education for Future Career Growth: More Essential Than Ever in the 2020’s


STEM is more fundamental and essential than ever

Back in 2001, the National Science Foundation introduced the acronym “STEM”, standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. In the decades that followed, educators and schools adopted and expanded efforts to embrace STEM related education. Heading into the new decade, STEM has never been so vital for an education that will prepare students for their professional careers rather than simply building technical competencies within the classroom.

According to DRPFConsuls.com, the National Science Foundation estimates that 80 percent of the jobs available during the next decade will require math and science skills, therefore, young students need to be introduced to STEM education at an early age. While some institutions have embraced early STEM learning, consistent programming during the school day is not a widespread practice.

Today’s children are more familiar with technology than any prior generation, but just being familiar with technology is not enough. Students in 2020 need a solid foundation in STEM to compete in careers where technical knowledge, problem-solving, and relationship-building are essential elements of the field.

Predictions for 2020 and beyond

STEM is a part of our daily lives. Read on to hear my take on the education industry and how the requirements surrounding STEM help leverage technology and computer science in the classroom and impact skills for future careers. 

1. The Connection Between STEM and Social-Emotional Learning

STEM curriculum with a computer science focus will not only build problem solving and critical thinking competencies, but will also include opportunities to reinforce social-emotional learning competencies. STEM curriculum helps social-emotional learners develop and apply skills to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, maintain positive relationships and increase problem-solving abilities in real-life situations. When computer science and STEM curriculum are taught only in front of a tablet or computer, it can be very isolating. But, when the curriculum incorporates engaged learning with interactive activities, critical thinking discussions and interactive problem solving, students gain the skills necessary for social emotional growth.

2. Making STEM a part of the school day

STEM curriculum with a computer science emphasis will be more integrated into the school day in 2020. For example, the number of states accelerating computer science into the classroom has doubled since last year. This past November, Code.org published a report stating that all 50 states are advancing policies that support computer science in schools. While each implementation will be unique to the vision and needs of the state, district and schools, the decision-making process will include core questions regarding:

  • Who will teach computer science?
  • How will we teach computer science?
  • How will computer science curriculum resonate with our students?

Computer Science curriculum in all grades should be customizable for the pacing, student outcomes, and instructional needs of each classroom. This helps educators easily teach a computer science curriculum while engaging students of all learning types.

3. Educators and administrators perspective of STEM in 2020

Administrators are currently challenged with:

  • Who will teach STEM?
  • How will they teach STEM?
  • How will STEM curriculum resonate with students?

The first step is getting started in the classroom. Educators can move the needle by making sure the curriculum empowers the educator, builds their confidence, is compliant with education standards, and results in measurable student outcomes. Bringing computer science and technology curriculum out of the isolation of self-paced learning and into the teacher-led, engaged learning classroom, STEM curriculum will introduce students to foundational computer science skills as well as reinforce social-emotional learning competencies, along with math and language arts standards.

Encouraging students to participate in STEM learning could open the potential to pursue a career in the field. A great way to promote that is by tackling real-world problems in educational settings. The engagement of U.S. children in STEM education is the key to companies filling an estimated 9 million jobs in the industry by 2022. With the increased prevalence of STEM careers, it’s up to educators and administrators to ensure their students are college and career ready.


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Christine McDonnell is the CEO and Co-Founder of Codelicious, a provider of full-year computer science curriculum which is project-based, teacher-led, and aligned to CSTA standards. Christine graduated Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University with Bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and earned her MBA in Corporate Strategy and Marketing from the University of Michigan. Prior to Codelicious, Christine led her own consulting practice, McDonnell & Associates, which focused on counseling high-growth technology ventures. Additionally, Christine served as Vice President of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, leading the team that developed the strategic vision and operating model for what is now the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. She also held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and DuPont and is a member of Women in High Tech. Christine is passionate about creating access and removing barriers to teaching and learning computer science in schools. You can connect with Christine on LinkedIn or Codelicious.com.


  1. STEM games and activities can help kids in developing many life essential skills. Thanks for sharing such an informative post and would help many to understand the importance for STEM education for kids.

  2. Today\’s students are tomorrow\’s pioneers. Occupations in STEM-related professions are probably the quickest developing and best paid of the 21st century, and they frequently have the best potential for work development. The most ideal approach to guarantee future achievement and life span is to ensure that the students are well versed in these subjects. Building a strong STEM Foundation through a balanced educational plan is the most ideal approach to guarantee that understudies are presented to math, science, and innovation all through their instructive profession. The craze for STEM Learning has now significantly increased in young students. The universities are coming up with various STEM Learning Programs in collaboration with other institutions & researchers.The STEM Learning Ecosystems have a vast potential to teach the young students in masses. Every year students are applying for these programs in a big number because of the real-time practice and to represent their talents.

  3. Thank you for your blog! My son used to have STEM as a special one day a week. He absolutely loved the STEM class! For some reason this year they stopped doing STEM. He is very sad about it.


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